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Gubernatorial Candidates Debate At Dakotafest

August 20, 2014, 6:00 PM by Hailey Higgins

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate At Dakotafest
MITCHELL, SD -

Huddled under a large tent at Dakotafest, the three people hoping to be South Dakota's next governor squared off for the first time ahead of November's General Election.

Incumbent Dennis Daugaard says his top priority for a second term would be to maintain economic stability in the Mount Rushmore state.

"I'm proud that South Dakota is a very low-debt state and as I've been governor, I've been able to reduce our debt still further. We've received a lot of revenue that was unexpected last November. Rather than start a new program or buy a new thing, we paid down debt early," Daugaard said.

Democrat Susan Wismer says her top priority would be to expand Medicaid in South Dakota, a federal option that has not been accepted by state leaders.

"Yes it is costing our state $272 million a year. It would save our counties money. It would save you and me money. It would provide health care to 48,000 of our friends and neighbors who would not have it tonight," Wismer said.

Independent Mike Myers also puts health care at the top of his list of priorities.

"When people are paying as much, or more, for their monthly insurance premium than they are paying for their house mortgage, it's time to take that away and I'm going to take a hard look at the tax-exempt behavior of our health care system," Myers said.

Education funding and solving the state's teacher shortage were also hot topics at the debate.

"Why don't we understand that the free market also works when it comes to attracting teachers to our schools," Wismer asked.

"I believe that the state should do what it can when we put our budget together. We budget for the full formula amount and more, if we can, if there is money. But I won't spend money we don't have," Daugaard said.

"We need to have the teachers and the parents be the ones who will be in charge of our education process, and if we have to spend the money, if we have to invest in our children, our next generation, I am going to make sure that we do it," Myers said.

The campaign trail will no doubt heat in the months up to the November 4 General Election.

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